Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has once again grabbed headlines, this time for his expletive-filled outburst during a live TV appearance at The New York Times’ annual conference. However, amid the controversy, a dubious cryptocurrency named X Token has been flourishing, with scammers taking advantage of the platform to promote their fraudulent scheme.
For ardent Elon Musk enthusiasts, the promises made by X Token seem irresistible – a chance to travel to Mars in 2025 through SpaceX, flamethrowers from The Boring Company, and brain chips from Neuralink associated with OpenAI. The project asserts that significant investors will influence crucial corporate decisions within Musk’s companies and the X coin will serve as the primary currency on the X platform. However, Musk has explicitly stated on multiple occasions that none of his companies will create a cryptocurrency, debunking the legitimacy of X Token.
Despite Musk’s disassociation from X Token, the scammers behind the project have been actively purchasing ads on X for nearly three months. These promoters have also been investing in verified X accounts to act as foot soldiers in their fraudulent ad campaign, likely incurring significant costs. The ads direct users to a professional-looking website featuring logos of Musk’s companies, where potential victims are guided to create an “X Token account” by providing personal information. The lack of response from X regarding these activities raises questions about the platform’s diligence in combating scams.
The individuals behind X Token have taken deliberate measures to remain elusive. The recent domain registration by a company called WhoisProtection, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, adds another layer of complexity to tracing the scammers. This company claims to shield domain registrants’ actual information, making it challenging to unveil the true identities behind X Token. Moreover, the crypto scam’s connections to dubious URLs, including a SpaceX-themed domain and one associated with Binance’s founder, further heighten the mystery surrounding X Token.
To avoid detection, X Token employs numerous verified X accounts, each running ads for a brief period before deleting them. This tactic erases any trace of the campaign on the accounts’ timelines, making it difficult to measure the scam’s overall reach. Forbes identified eighteen different X accounts involved in promoting X Token, highlighting the extent of the coordinated effort to deceive X users.
X users have been actively trying to alert the platform to the X Token scam for weeks, with some even tagging X’s safety team and CEO in their pleas for action. Despite these efforts, the scammers continue to adapt, with verified accounts losing their status after running X Token ads. The lack of a robust response from X has led some users to criticise the platform for prioritising financial gains over user safety.
X Token is just the latest addition to a growing list of Elon Musk impersonators and cryptocurrency scams on the platform. Previous scams, such as SpaceX coin and Tesla Token, have plagued X users, highlighting the ongoing challenges the platform faces in curbing fraudulent activities. Deep fake videos depicting Musk endorsing fake investment schemes have further fuelled the problem, deceiving numerous individuals.
As X Token proliferates, major corporate advertisers have been reevaluating their ad spend on the platform, not only due to the scam but also because of other concerns. Reports indicate a significant decline in revenues, and recent controversies, including Musk’s endorsement of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, have prompted advertisers from Airbnb to Amazon to reconsider their plans. In response, X is offering discounts to verified users, a move criticized by some as an attempt to salvage ad revenue amid growing challenges.
In summary, the convergence of Musk’s controversial statements, the rise of X Token scams, and advertisers’ concerns pose a multifaceted challenge for the popular social media platform. As users demand increased safety measures and transparency, the platform faces a pivotal moment in addressing these issues and maintaining its integrity.
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